Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independence Day - A Flashback to the American Revolution

The primary purpose of Arkansas in the Civil War is to focus on sites of Civil War interest, but in celebration of Independence Day, I thought it might be worthwhile to pause and visit the Arkansas site of the last battle of the American Revolution.
On April 17, 1783, long after all of the other supposed "last battles" of the Revolution, a force of British partisans led by James Colbert attacked the Spanish fort at Arkansas Post.
Spain had formed an alliance with the fledgling United States and fought in a number of battles of the American Revolution, including the ones at both Pensacola and Mobile. Their fort at Arkansas Post, however, had not come under attack during the war until Colbert led his command across the Mississippi River and into the swamps of the Delta.
Moving into position in and around the adjacent village of Arkansas Post, Colbert's men struck the fort at dawn on the morning of April 17th. Rounding up the civilizians and seizing Spanish cannon, Colbert attacked the walls of the fort shortly after 6 a.m. The garrison held out, however, and a sharp battle opened that continued for about 3 hours.
Even though he had only 14 soldiers in the fort, Jacabo de Brueil decided to sally out and attack Colbert before his men could position artillery to bombard the fort. They were preparing for their attack when suddenly they saw a white flag approaching the fort with a demand to surrender. After reading the demand, he ordered the attack.
Yelling as loudly as they could to create the impression of a much larger force, the little band of Spanish soldiers and volunteers stormed out of the gates of the fort. The bold ruse worked. Thinking they were about to be slaughtered, Colbert's men broke and ran. The fort held and the Battle of Arkansas Post was over.
The last battle of the American Revolution was unique from a number of perspectives. It was a Spanish victory, it was one of only two battles fought west of the Mississippi River during the war, it resulted in the last loss of life of the Revolution and was noted for the death of an African American soldier who took up arms to defend the town when the British attacked. He was one of the last soldiers killed in the American Revolution.
The site of the battle is now interpreted at Arkansas Post National Memorial. To learn more, please visit
Please have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July!

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